The music industry is changing at such a rapid pace. Even the way acts break via the internet is evolving. In the MySpace era many bands and artists have been blogged about, hyped up and have toured extensively before a fan gets the chance to hold an actual CD of album-length material in their hands. Little Boots, Uffie (and perhaps later this year Hurts) were incubated for too long, died in utero and ended up with their projects stillborn by the time of release.
Lessons appear to have been learnt and the turnaround time from early blog-hype about Sleigh Bells to having the album on the shelves has been remarkably quick. Even the duo’s signing to MIA’s NEET label was rapid – reportedly agreed via one email and without Maya meeting them. Clearly Derek E. Miller had been searching for the ying to his yang for some time and a chance meeting in an NY diner with Alexis Strauss soon led to the creation of Sleigh Bells as we know them.
This is one album which most definitely lives up to the early hype and whilst comparisons are possible it doesn’t sound like anything else released this year. Best described as Annie fronting Crystal Castles, but with the sound of guitars being exploded rather than the detonated ATARIs. Treats is the sound of Alexis and Derek battling it out – her sweet vocals and pop sensibility versus his electronic sound effects (I’m sure I recognise the whhoooopp sound from Roy Walker’s defunct ITV cheese fest Catchphrase) and massively distorted feedback – somehow with them both emerging victorious.
Only occasionally is there the feeling that a song deemed just a little too pop has distortion added simply for the sake of it (Run the Heart for example). For the rest of the album, despite the absolute racket being made at times, there are wonderful melodies and downright excellent tunes at the heart. Rill Rill cruises along with hints of 70s west coast soft rock FM radio whilst just 2 tracks away in the running order Straight A’s is a full on riot girl attack of deafening proportions lasting less than 2 minutes.
The cover art depicting a group of cheerleaders could not be a more all American image – yet a closer look shows the faces of the girls covered with bizarre masks. That’s perhaps the best reflection of the album itself – cute and wholesome on the surface but with something very sinister lurking just beneath.
Words: Lee Bennett
Listen: SLEIGH BELLS – Treats